View Full Version : Probe eyes key concept of physics

Apr 3, 2004, 12:40 PM
t took more than 44 years to build, was canceled seven times, and is considered by some scientists to be the most technically difficult mission NASA has ever undertaken.

Yesterday, the space agency announced that Gravity Probe B is finally ready for launch on April 17. Its goal is to help prove one of the most confounding concepts in physics: the strange twist in space-time predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity.

Despite the modest name, Gravity Probe B carries a payload of superlatives. It has taken longer to finish than any other project at NASA. It is armed with some of the most precise instruments ever built. And in a space agency known for its delays and cost overruns, the $700 million project remains singular in its ballooning schedule and budget, some observers say.

"Gravity Probe B has been 5 years away from launch for the 25 years I've been involved in space programs," said Keith Cowing, editor of Nasawatch.com, a group that monitors NASA.


Apr 3, 2004, 06:08 PM
Since the project was conceived by three scientists after a naked midday swim at Stanford University's pool...

More than I needed to know! :eek: :eek: :p ;)

So much delicate equipment! I just hope NASA doesn't pull another Hubble.

Apr 3, 2004, 06:59 PM
the $700 million project

And its going to explode 11seconds after take off. Most expensive bottle-rocket.. EVER. :)

Apr 3, 2004, 07:56 PM
And its going to explode 11seconds after take off. Most expensive bottle-rocket.. EVER. :)
Meanwhile people are starving all over the world. Do you realize that $700 million would buy a ********* of Ramen noodles and off-brand soda!?!??? :rolleyes:

Apr 21, 2004, 03:49 PM
And its going to explode 11seconds after take off. Most expensive bottle-rocket.. EVER. :)

Another success for NASA! ;) Now on to scientific study.

Decades after project began, NASA launches gravity probe

By Associated Press *|* April 21, 2004

LOS ANGELES -- NASA yesterday launched a $750 million satellite conceived during the Eisenhower administration to test two of Albert Einstein's fundamental theories about the universe.

Gravity Probe B blasted off from an oceanside pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base, one day after officials scrubbed an earlier attempt. The launch of the 6,800-pound spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., marked the end of the longest development period of any mission in the history of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Scientists first proposed what became Gravity Probe B in 1959, a year after the launch of the first US satellite and the creation of NASA. Over the decades, the project weathered more than a half-dozen attempts at cancellation amid concerns over cost overruns and technical hurdles.

The Earth-orbiting satellite was built to test two of Einstein's predictions about the nature of space and time and how the rotating Earth warps and twists the fabric that combines the two.

Scientists at Stanford University designed the spacecraft around four spheres of quartz the size of ping-pong balls. They are the most perfect manmade spheres ever created.

Theory predicts that by lining up the satellite in space with a distant star and setting the balls spinning, their alignment should shift off kilter in small but measurable amounts in response to the mass and rotation of the Earth.

Mr. Anderson
Apr 21, 2004, 10:35 PM
I'd love to see what would happen if the results differed from what's expected...:D

The whole idea of frame grabbing or the missing 'inch' is just another of Einstein's genius. Gravity warping space like a tornado....odd to say the least. I have to wonder if it would ever have any scientific benefit other than just proving a theory...


Apr 22, 2004, 12:14 AM
NASA Control Room -

Jones: What the hell?!? Why aren't the little balls spinning??? [looks at Smith]

Smith: Whaddya lookin' at me for, it was Dr. Kay's job to set them spinning!

Jones: Ok, well, here's what were going to do. Let's just make up some numbers that are really close to Einstein's predictions. I mean, hell, the guy got everything else right-

Dr. Kay: -Actually, we goofed on a majority of our other experiments, so technically, we can't be sure that he was right.

Jones: Dammit! Well, we'll just go ahead and call him right here too. Don't want to break tradition. Smith, you get going on a press release about Einstein being right again, and Dr. Kay and I will BS some number. Mission Accomplished, good work gentlemen.